Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta’s campaign owes “a significant amount of money from the Primary with no plan to deal with it,” according to a leaked confidential email from Ron Gravino, the campaign’s former treasurer.
Gravino, a prominent Republican treasurer, resigned from Mehta’s campaign. The Federal Election Commission was informed of the resignation on August 13. Gravino’s email said he and Mehta agreed to part ways over two weeks ago “due to serious differences in the financial area and management of the campaign.”
MMM obtained the email from a supporter of Hirsh Singh’s. Singh lost the July 7 primary to Mehta by less that 2%. He continues to contest the results.
We have confirmed the authenticity of Gravino’s email which is embedded at the end of this article.
“That’s not true at all. Is that what he said?” Mehta interjected when Gravino’s email was being read to him on a phone call this morning . He then asked for five minutes to call us back. When he called back he said he needed context and that he did not have Gravino’s email. We sent him the email and waited for another call back. A half hour later, he called.
“That’s not true, what Ron said in his email,” Mehta said. “Ron told me he was leaving over a conflict of interest with my attorney.” The candidate said that his attorney is Tim Howes, a well known election law attorney and the recently elected Chairman of the Somerset County GOP. When asked how long Howes has been his attorney, Mehta said he doesn’t remember. When pressed, he said, “Recant. I don’t know if Ron has a conflict with Tim. I think they worked together on another campaign.”
Chris Russell, the campaign’s general consultant, Amanda Woloshen, the campaign manager and Christina Sofia-Comer, the fundraiser, left Mehta’s campaign last week, according to Gravino’s email.
Rik for New Jersey Inc. owed Checkmate Strategies, Russell’s company, $11,910.73 and American Express $1012.73, and Mehta $315,000, as of June 30, according to the most recent report filed with the FEC. Expenses incurred during the last week of the July 7 primary election have not yet been reported.
The campaign reported $17,712.41 cash on hand on June 30 and a $1000 donation on July 2.
Mehta said his separation from Russell and Woloshen was amicable. He hired them to navigate the convention process and primary and that they did their jobs well. “We’re going in a different direction in the general election.”
The candidate said his general election strategy revolves around “digital door knocking” and that Russell and Woloshen do not have those skills. “The mail will be overwhelmed with vote by mail ballots. Our general election campaign will have a digital focus appropriate for the COVID environment.”
He said his fundraising is going very well and that Russell’s bill will be paid. “We’re in the process of writing the check.”